Angelina went by water from Cardiffe to Bristol; the water was rather rough, and, as she was unused to the motion of a vessel, she was both frightened and sick. She spent some hours very disagreeably, and without even the sense of acting like a heroine, to support her spirits. It was late in the evening before she arrived at the end of her voyage: she was landed on the quay at Bristol. No hackney-coach was to be had, and she was obliged to walk to the Bush. To find herself in the midst of a bustling, vulgar crowd, by whom she was unknown, but not unnoticed, was new to Miss Warwick. Whilst she was with Lady Diana Chillingworth, she had always been used to see crowds make way for her; she was now surprised to feel herself jostled in the streets by passengers, who were all full of their own affairs, hurrying different ways, in pursuit of objects which probably seemed to them as important as the search for an unknown friend appeared to Angelina.
Betty Williams’s friend’s friend, the careful lad, who was to deliver the letter to Miss Hodges, was a waiter at the Bush. Upon inquiry, it was found that he had totally forgotten his promise: Angelina’s letter was, after much search, found in a bottle-drainer, so much stained with port wine, that it was illegible. The man answered with the most provoking nonchalance, when Angelina reproached him for his carelessness —“That, indeed, no such person as Miss Hodges was to be found: that nobody he could meet with had ever heard the name.” They who are extremely enthusiastic suffer continually from the total indifference of others to their feelings; and young people can scarcely conceive the extent of this indifference until they have seen something of the world. Seeing the world does not always mean seeing a certain set of company in London.
Angelina, the morning after her arrival at the Bush, took a hackney-coach, and left the care of directing the coachman to Betty Williams, who professed to have a perfect knowledge of Bristol. Betty desired the man to drive to the drawbridge; and, at the sound of the word drawbridge, various associations of ideas with the drawbridges of ancient times were called up in Miss Warwick’s imagination. How different was the reality from her castles in the air! She was roused from her reverie by the voices of Betty Williams and the coachman.
“Where will I drive ye to, I ask you?” said the coachman, who was an Irishman: “Will I stand all day upon the drawbridge stopping the passage?”
“Trive on a step, and I will get out and see apout me,” said Betty: “I know the look of the house, as well as I know any thing.”
Betty got out of the coach, and walked up and down the street, looking at the houses like one bewildered.
“Bad luck to you! for a Welsh woman as you are,” exclaimed the coachman, jumping down from the box, “will I lave the young lady standing in the streets all day alone for you to be making a fool this way of us both? — Sorrow take me now! If I do —”
“Pless us, pe not in a pet or a pucker, or how shall I recollect any body or any thing. — Cood! Cood! — Stand you there while I just say over my alphabet: a, p, c, t, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, b. — It was some name which begins with p, and ends with a t, I pelieve.”
“Here’s a pretty direction, upon my troth; some name which begins with a p, and ends with a t,” cried the coachman; and after he had uttered half a score of Hibernian execrations upon the Welsh woman’s folly, he with much good nature went along with her to read the names on the street doors. —“Here’s a name now that’s the very thing for you — here’s Pushit now.-Was the name Pushit? — Ricollict yourself, my good girl, was that your name?”
“Pushit! — Oh, yes, I am sure, and pelieve it was Pushit — Mrs. Pushit’s house, Pristol, where our Miss Hodges lodges alway.”
“Mrs. Pushit — but this is quite another man; I tell you this is Sir John — Faith now we are in luck,” continued the coachman —“here’s another p just at hand; here’s Mrs. Puffit; sure she begins with a p, and ends with a t, and is a milliner into the bargain? so sure enough I’ll engage the young lady lodges here. — Puffit — Hey? — Ricollict now, and don’t be looking as if you’d just been pulled out of your sleep, and had never been in a Christian town before now.”
“Pless us, Cot pless us!” said the Welsh girl, who was quite overpowered by the Irishman’s flow of words — and she was on the point of having recourse, in her own defence, to her native tongue, in which she could have matched either male or female in fluency; but, to Angelina’s great relief, the dialogue between the coachman and Betty Williams ceased. The coachman drew up to Mrs. Puffit’s; but, as there was a handsome carriage at the door, Miss Warwick was obliged to wait in her hackney-coach some time longer. The handsome carriage belonged to Lady Frances Somerset. — By one of those extraordinary coincidences which sometimes occur in real life, but which are scarcely believed to be natural when they are related in books, Miss Warwick happened to come to this shop at the very moment when the persons she most wished to avoid were there. Whilst the dialogue between Betty Williams and the hackney-coachman was passing, Lady Diana Chillingworth and Miss Burrage were seated in Mrs. Puffit’s shop: Lady Diana was extremely busy bargaining with the milliner; for, though rich, and a woman of quality, her ladyship piqued herself upon making the cheapest bargains in the world.
“Your la’ship did not look at this eight and twenty shilling lace,” said Mrs. Puffit; “’tis positively the cheapest thing your la’ship ever saw. Jessie! the laces in the little blue band-box. Quick! for my Ladi Di. — Quick!”
“But it is out of my power to stay to look at any thing more now,” said Lady Diana; “and yet,” whispered she to Miss Burrage, “when one does go out a shopping, one certainly likes to bring home a bargain.”
“Certainly; but Bristol’s not the place for bargains,” said Miss Burrage; “you will find nothing tolerable, I assure you, my dear Lady Di., at Bristol.”
“Why, my dear,” said her ladyship, “were you ever at Bristol before? How comes it that I never heard that you were at Bristol before? Where were you, child?”
“At the Wells, at the Wells, ma’am,” replied Miss Burrage, and she turned pale and red in the space of a few seconds; but Lady Diana, who was very near-sighted, was holding her head so close to the blue band-box full of lace, that she could not see the changes in her companion’s countenance. The fact was, that Miss Burrage was born and bred in Bristol, where she had several relations, who were not in high life, and by whom she consequently dreaded to be claimed. When she first met Lady Diana Chillingworth at Buxton, she had passed herself upon her for one of the Burrages of Dorsetshire, and she knew that, if her ladyship was to discover the truth, she would cast her off with horror. For this reason, she had done every thing in her power to prevent Lady Di. from coming to Clifton; and for this reason she now endeavoured to persuade her that nothing tolerable could be met with at Bristol.
“I am afraid, Lady Di., you will be late at Lady Mary’s,” said she.
“Look at this lace, child, and give me your opinion — eight and twenty shillings, Mrs. Puffit, did you say?”
“Eight and twenty, my lady — and I lose by every yard I sell at that price. Ma’am, you see,” said Mrs. Puffit, appealing to Miss Burrage, “’tis real Valenciennes, you see.”
“I see ’tis horrid dear,” said Miss Burrage: then in a whisper to Lady Di. she added, “at Miss Trentham’s at the Wells, your ladyship will meet with such bargains!”
Mrs. Puffit put her lace upon the alabaster neck of the large doll which stood in the middle of her shop. “Only look, my lady — only see, ma’am, how beautiful becoming ’tis to the neck, and sets off a dress too, you know, ma’am. And (turning to Miss Burrage) eight and twenty, you know, ma’am, is really nothing for any lace you’d wear; but more particularly for real Valenciennes, which can scarce be had real, for love or money, since the French Revolution. Real Valenciennes! — and will wear and wash, and wash and wear — not that your ladyship minds that — for ever and ever — and is such a bargain, and so becoming to the neck, especially to ladies of your la’ship’s complexion.”
“Well, I protest, I believe, Burrage, I don’t know what to say, my dear — hey?”
“I’m told,” whispered Miss Burrage, “that Miss Trentham’s to have a lace raffle at the Wells next week.”
“A raffle?” cried Lady Di., turning her back immediately upon the doll and the lace.
“Well,” cried Mrs. Puffit, “instead of eight say seven and twenty shillings, Miss Burrage, for old acquaintance sake.”
“Old acquaintance!” exclaimed Miss Burrage: “la! Mrs. Puffit, I don’t remember ever being twice in your shop all the time I was at the Wells before.”
“No, ma’am,” replied Mrs. Puffit, with a malicious smile — but when you was living on Saint Augustin’s Back.”
“Saint Augustin’s Back, my dear!” exclaimed Lady Diana Chillingworth, with a look of horror and amazement.
Miss Burrage, laying down a bank-note on the counter, made a quick and expressive sign to the milliner to hold her tongue.
“Dear Mrs. Puffit,” cried she, “you certainly mistake me for some other strange person. Lady Di., now I look at it with my glass, this lace is very fine, I must agree with you, and not dear, by any means, for real Valenciennes: cut me off three yards of this lace — I protest there’s no withstanding it, Lady Di.”
“Three yards at eight and twenty — here, Jesse,” said Mrs. Puffit. “I beg your pardon, ma’am, for my mistake; I supposed it was some other lady of the same name; there are so many Burrages. Only three yards did you say, ma’am?”
“Nay, I don’t care if you give me four. I’m of the Burrages of Dorsetshire.”
“A very good family, those Burrages of Dorsetshire, as any in England,” said Lady Di. —“and put up twelve yards of this for me, Mrs. Puffit.”
“Twelve at eight and twenty — yes, my lady — very much obliged to your ladyship — much obliged to you, Miss Burrage. Here, Jesse, this to my Lady Di. Chillingworth’s carriage.” Jesse called at the shop-door, in a shrill voice, to a black servant of Lady Frances Somerset —“Mr. Hector, Mr. Hector! Sir, pray put this parcel into the carriage for Lady Diana Chillingworth.”
Angelina, who was waiting in her hackney-coach, started; she could scarcely believe that she heard the name rightly:— but, an instant afterwards, the voice of Lady Diana struck her ear, and she sunk back in great agitation. However, neither Miss Burrage nor Lady Di. saw her; they got into their carriage, and drove away.
Angelina was so much alarmed, that she could scarcely believe that the danger was past when she saw the carriage at the furthest end of the street.
“Wouldn’t you be pleased to ‘light, ma’am?” said Jesse.
“We don’t bring things to the door.”
“Who have we here?” cried Mrs. Puffit; “who have we here?”
“Only some folks out of a hack, that was kept waiting, and couldn’t draw up whilst my Lady Di.‘s carriage was at the door,” said Jesse.
“A good pretty girl, the foremost,” said Mrs. Puffit. “But, in the name of wonder, what’s that odd fish coming behind her?”
“A queer-looking pair, in good truth!” said Jesse.
Angelina seated herself, and gave a deep sigh. “Ribands, if you please, ma’am,” said she to Mrs. Puffit. “I must,” thought she, “ask for something before I ask for my Araminta.”
“Ribands — yes, ma’am — what sort? Keep an eye upon the glass,” whispered the milliner to her shop girl, as she stooped behind the counter for a drawer of ribands —“keep an eye on the glass, Jesse — a girl of the town, I take it. What colour, ma’am?”
“Blue —‘cerulean blue.’ Here, child,” said Angelina, turning to Betty Williams, “here’s a riband for you.”
Betty Williams did not hear, for Betty was fascinated by the eyes of the great doll, opposite to which she stood fixed.
“Lord, what a fine lady! and how hur stares at Betty Williams!” thought she: “I wish hur would take her eyes off me.”
“Betty! Betty Williams! — a riband for you,” cried Angelina, in a louder tone.
Betty started —“Miss! — a riband!” She ran forward, and, in pushing by the doll, threw it backward: Mrs. Puffit caught it in her arms, and Betty, stopping short, curtsied, and said to the doll —“Peg pardon, miss — peg pardon, miss — tit I hurt you? — peg pardon. Pless us! ’tis a toll, and no woman, I teclare.”
The milliner and Jesse now burst into uncontrollable, and, as Angelina feared, “unextinguishable laughter.” Nothing is so distressing to a sentimental heroine as ridicule: Miss Warwick perceived that she had her share of that which Betty Williams excited; and she who imagined herself to be capable of “combating, in all its Proteus forms, the system of social slavery,” was unable to withstand the laughter of a milliner and her ‘prentice.
“Do you please to want any thing else, ma’am?” said Mrs. Puffit, in a saucy tone —“Rouge, perhaps?”
“I wish to know, madam,” said Angelina, “whether a lady of the name of Hodges does not lodge here?”
“A lady of the name of Hodges! — no, ma’am — I’m very particular about lodgers — no such lady ever lodged with me. — Jesse! to the door — quick! — Lady Mary Tasselton’s carriage.”
Angelina hastily rose and departed. Whilst Jesse ran to the door, and whilst Mrs. Puffit’s attention was fixed upon Lady Mary Tasselton’s carriage, Betty Williams twitched from off the doll’s shoulders the remainder of the piece of Valenciennes lace which had been left there. “Since hur’s only wood, I’ll make free,” said she to herself, and she carried off the lace unobserved.
Angelina’s impatience to find her Araminta was increased, by the dread of meeting Lady Di. Chillingworth in every carriage that passed, and in every shop where she might call. At the next house at which the coachman stopped, the words, Dinah Plait, relict of Jonas Plait, cheesemonger, were written in large letters over the shop-door. Angelina thought she was in no danger of meeting her ladyship here, and she alighted. There was no one in the shop but a child of seven years old; he could not understand well what Angelina or Betty said, but he ran to call his aunt. Dinah Plait was at dinner; and when the child opened the door of the parlour, there came forth such a savoury smell, that Betty Williams, who was extremely hungry, could not forbear putting her head in, to see what was upon the table.
“Pless hur! heggs and pacon and toasted cheese — Cot pless hur!” exclaimed Betty.
“Aunt Dinah,” said the child, “here are two women in some great distress, they told me — and astray and hungry.”
“In some great distress, and astray and hungry? — then let them in here, child, this minute.”
There was seated at a small table, in a perfectly neat parlour, a quaker, whose benevolent countenance charmed Angelina the moment she entered the room.
“Pardon this intrusion,” said she.
“Friend, thou art welcome,” said Dinah Plait, and her looks said so more expressively than her words. An elderly man rose, and leaving the cork-screw in the half-drawn cork of a bottle of cider, he set a chair for Angelina, and withdrew to the window.
“Be seated, and eat, for verily thou seemest to be hungry,” said Mrs. Plait to Betty Williams, who instantly obeyed, and began to eat like one that had been half famished.
“And now, friend, thy business, thy distress — what is it?” said Dinah, turning to Angelina: “so young to have sorrows.”
“I had best take myself away,” said the elderly gentleman, who stood at the window —“I had best take myself away, for miss may not like to speak before me — though she might, for that matter.”
“Where is the gentleman going?” said Miss Warwick; “I have but one short question to ask, and I have nothing to say that need —”
“I dare say, young lady, you can have nothing to say that you need be ashamed of, only people in distress don’t like so well to speak before third folks, I guess— though, to say the truth, I have never known, by my own experience, what it was to be in much distress since I came into the world — but I hope I am not the more hard-hearted for that — for I can guess, I say, pretty well, how those in distress feel when they come to speak. Do as you would be done by is my maxim till I can find a better — so I take myself away, leaving my better part behind me, if it will be of any service to you, madam.”
As he passed by Miss Warwick, he dropped his purse into her lap, and he was gone before she could recover from her surprise.
“Sir! — madam!” cried she, rising hastily, “here has been some strange mistake — I am not a beggar — I am much, very much obliged to you, but —”
“Nay, keep it, friend, keep it,” said Dinah Plait, pressing the purse upon Angelina; “John Barker is as rich as a Jew, and as generous as a prince. Keep it, friend, and you’ll oblige both him and me —’tis dangerous in this world for one so young and so pretty as you are to be in great distress; so be not proud.”
“I am not proud,” said Miss Warwick, drawing her purse from her pocket; “but my distress is not of a pecuniary nature — Convince yourself — I am in distress only for a friend, an unknown friend.”
“Touched in her brain, I doubt,” thought Dinah.
“Coot ale!” exclaimed Betty Williams —“Coot heggs and pacon.”
“Does a lady of the name of Araminta — Miss Hodges, I mean — lodge here?” said Miss Warwick.
“Friend, I do not let lodgings; and I know of no such person as Miss Hodges.”
“Well, I swear hur name, the coachman told me, did begin with a p, and end with a t,” cried Betty Williams, “or I would never have let him knock at hur toor.”
“Oh, my Araminta! my Araminta!” exclaimed Angelina, turning up her eyes towards heaven —“when, oh when shall I find thee? I am the most unfortunate person upon earth.”
“Had not hur petter eat a hegg, and a pit of pacon? here’s one pit left,” said Betty: “hur must be hungry, for ’tis two o’clock past, and we preakfasted at nine — hur must be hungry;” and Betty pressed her to try the pacon; but Angelina put it away, or, in the proper style, motioned the bacon from her.
“I am in no want of food,” cried she, rising: “happy they who have no conception of any but corporeal sufferings. Farewell, madam! — may the sensibility, of which your countenance is so strongly expressive, never be a source of misery to you!”— and with that depth of sigh which suited the close of such a speech, Angelina withdrew.
“If I could but have felt her pulse,” said Dinah Plait to herself, “I could have prescribed something that, maybe, would have done her good, poor distracted thing! Now it was well done of John Barker to leave this purse for her — but how is this? — poor thing! she’s not fit to be trusted with money — here she has left her own purse full of guineas.”
Dinah ran immediately to the house-door, in hopes of being able to catch Angelina; but the coach had turned down into another street, and was out of sight. Mrs. Plait sent for her constant counsellor, John Barker, to deliberate on the means of returning the purse. It should be mentioned, to the credit of Dinah’s benevolence, that, at the moment when she was interrupted by the entrance of Betty Williams and Angelina, she was hearing the most flattering things from a person who was not disagreeable to her: her friend, John Barker, was a rich hosier, who had retired from business; and who, without any ostentation, had a great deal of real feeling and generosity. But the fastidious taste of fine, or sentimental readers, will probably be disgusted by our talking of the feelings and generosity of a hosier and a cheesemonger’s widow. It belongs to a certain class of people to indulge in the luxury of sentiment: we shall follow our heroine, therefore, who, both from her birth and education, is properly qualified to have —“exquisite feelings.”
The next house at which Angelina stopped, to search for her amiable Araminta, was at Mrs. Porett’s academy for young ladies.
“Yes, ma’am, Miss Hodges is here — Pray walk into this room, and you shall see the young lady immediately.” Angelina burst into the room instantly, exclaiming —
“Oh, my Araminta! have I found you at last?”
She stopped short, a little confounded at finding herself in a large room full of young ladies, who were dancing reels, and who all stood still at one and the same instant, and fixed their eyes upon her, struck with astonishment at her theatrical entrée and exclamation.
“Miss Hodges!” said Mrs. Porett — and a little girl of seven years old came forward:—“Here, ma’am,” said Mrs. Porett to Angelina, “here is Miss Hodges.”
“Not my Miss Hodges! not my Araminta! alas!”
“No, ma’am,” said the little girl; “I am only Letty Hodges.”
Several of her companions now began to titter.
“These girls,” said Angelina to herself, “take me for a fool;” and, turning to Mrs. Porett, she apologized for the trouble she had given, in language as little romantic as she could condescend to use.
“Tid you bid me, miss, wait in the coach, or the passage?” cried Betty Williams, forcing her way in at the door, so as almost to push down the dancing-master, who stood with his back to it. Betty stared round, and dropped curtsy after curtsy, whilst the young ladies laughed and whispered, and whispered and laughed; and the words, odd — vulgar — strange — who is she? — what is she? — reached Miss Warwick.
“This Welsh girl,” thought she, “is my torment. Wherever I go she makes me share the ridicule of her folly.”
Clara Hope, one of the young ladies, saw and pitied Angelina’s confusion.
“Gif over, an ye have any gude nature — gif over your whispering and laughing,” said Clara to her companions: “ken ye not ye make her so bashful, she’d fain hide her face wi’ her twa hands.”
But it was in vain that the good-natured Clara Hope remonstrated: her companions could not forbear tittering, as Betty Williams, upon Miss Warwick’s laying the blame of the mistake on her, replied in a strong Welsh accent —“I will swear almost the name was Porett or Plait, where our Miss Hodges tid always lodge in Pristol. Porett, or Plait, or Puffit, or some of her names that pekin with a p and ent with at.”
Angelina, quite overpowered, shrunk back, as Betty bawled out her vindication, and she was yet more confused, when Monsieur Richelet, the dancing-master, at this unlucky instant, came up to her, and with an elegant bow, said, “It is not difficult to see by her air, that mademoiselle dances superiorly. Mademoiselle vould she do me de plaisir — de honneur to dance one minuet?”
“Oh, if she would but dance!” whispered some of the group of young ladies.
“Excuse me, sir,” said Miss Warwick.
“Not a minuet? — den a minuet de la cour, a cotillon, or contredanse, or reel; vatever mademoiselle please vill do us honneur.”
Angelina, with a mixture of impatience and confusion, repeated, “Excuse me, sir — I am going — I interrupt — I beg I may not interrupt.”
“A coot morrow to you all, creat and small,” said Betty Williams, curtsying awkwardly at the door as she went out before Miss Warwick.
The young ladies were now diverted so much beyond the bounds of decorum, that Mrs. Porett was obliged to call them to order.
“Oh, my Araminta, what scenes have I gone through! to what derision have I exposed myself for your sake!” said our heroine to herself.
Just as she was leaving the dancing-room, she was stopped short by Betty Williams, who, with a face of terror, exclaimed, “’Tis a poy in the hall, that I tare not pass for my lifes; he has a pasket full of pees in his hand, and I cannot apide pees, ever since one tay when I was a chilt, and was stung on the nose by a pee. The poy in the hall has a pasketful of pees, ma’am,” said Betty, with an imploring accent, to Mrs. Porett.
“A basketful of bees!” said Mrs. Porett, laughing: “Oh, you are mistaken: I know what the boy has in his basket — they are only flowers; they are not bees: you may safely go by them.”
“Put I saw pees with my own eyes,” persisted Betty.
“Only a basketful of the bee orchis, which I commissioned a little boy to bring from St. Vincent’s rocks for my young botanists,” said Mrs. Porett to Angelina: “you know the flower is so like a bee, that at first sight you might easily mistake it.” Mrs. Porett, to convince Betty Williams that she had no cause for fear, went on before her into the hall; but Betty still hung back, crying —
“It is a pasket full of pees! I saw the pees with my own eyes.”
The noise she made excited the curiosity of the young ladies in the dancing-room: they looked out to see what was the matter.
“Oh, ’tis the wee-wee French prisoner boy, with the bee orchises for us — there, I see him standing in the hall,” cried Clara Hope, and instantly she ran, followed by several of her companions, into the hall.
“You see that they are not bees,” said Mrs. Porett to Betty Williams, as she took several of the flowers in her hand. Betty, half convinced, yet half afraid, moved a few steps into the hall.
“You have no cause for dread,” said Clara Hope; “poor boy, he has nought in his basket that can hurt any body.”
Betty Williams’s heavy foot was now set upon the train of Clara’s gown, and, as the young lady sprang forwards, her gown, which was of thin muslin, was torn so as to excite the commiseration of all her young companions.
“What a terrible rent! and her best gown!” said they. “Poor Clara Hope!”
“Pless us! peg pardon, miss!” cried the awkward, terrified Betty; “peg pardon, miss!”
“Pardon’s granted,” said Clara; and whilst her companions stretched out her train, deploring the length and breadth of her misfortune, she went on speaking to the little French boy. “Poor wee boy! ’tis a sad thing to be in a strange country, far away from one’s ane ane kin and happy hame — poor wee thing,” said she, slipping some money into his hand.
“What a heavenly countenance!” thought Angelina, as she looked at Clara Hope: “Oh, that my Araminta may resemble her!”
“Plait il — take vat you vant — tank you,” said the little boy, offering to Clara Hope his basket of flowers, and a small box of trinkets, which he held in his hand.
“Here’s a many pretty toys — who’ll buy?” cried Clara, turning to her companions.
The young ladies crowded round the box and the basket.
“Is he in distress?” said Angelina; “perhaps I can be of some use to him!” and she put her hand into her pocket, to feel for her purse.
“He’s a very honest, industrious little boy,” said Mrs. Porett, “and he supports his parents by his active ingenuity.”
“And, Louis, is your father sick still?” continued Clara Hope to the poor boy.
“Bien malade! bien malade! very sick! very sick!” said he. The unaffected language of real feeling and benevolence is easily understood, and is never ridiculous; even in the broken English of little Louis, and the broad Scotch tone of Clara, it was both intelligible and agreeable.
Angelina had been for some time past feeling in her pocket for her purse.
“’Tis gone — certainly gone!” she exclaimed: “I’ve lost it! lost my purse! Betty, do you know any thing of it? I had it at Mrs. Plait’s! — What shall I do for this poor little fellow? — This trinket is of gold!” said she, taking from her neck a locket —“Here, my little fellow, I have no money to give you, take this — nay, you must, indeed.”
“Tanks! tanks! bread for my poor fader! joy! joy! — too much joy! too much!”
“You see you were wrong to laugh at her,” whispered Clara Hope to her companions: “I liked her lukes from the first.”
Natural feeling, at this moment, so entirely occupied and satisfied Angelina, that she forgot her sensibility for her unknown friend; and it was not till one of the children observed the lock of hair in her locket that she recollected her accustomed cant of —“Oh, my Araminta! my amiable Araminta! could I part with that hair, more precious than gold?”
“Pless us!” said Betty; “put, if she has lost her purse, who shall pay for the coach, and what will become of our tinners?”
Angelina silenced Betty Williams with peremptory dignity.
Mrs. Porett, who was a good and sensible woman, and who had been interested for our heroine, by her good-nature to the little French boy, followed Miss Warwick as she left the room. “Let me detain you but for a few minutes,” said she, opening the door of a little study. “You have nothing to fear from any impertinent curiosity on my part; but, perhaps, I may be of some assistance to you.”— Miss Warwick could not refuse to be detained a few minutes by so friendly a voice.
“Madam, you have mentioned the name of Araminta several times since you came into this house,” said Mrs. Porett, with something of embarrassment in her manner, for she was afraid of appearing impertinent. “I know, or at least I knew, a lady who writes under that name, and whose real name is Hodges.”
“Oh, a thousand, thousand thanks!” cried Angelina: “tell me, where can I find her?”
“Are you acquainted with her? You seem to be a stranger, young lady, in Bristol. Are you acquainted with Miss Hodges’s whole history?”
“Yes, her whole history; every feeling of her soul; every thought of her mind!” cried Angelina, with enthusiasm. “We have corresponded for two years past.”
Mrs. Porett smiled. “It is not always possible,” said she, “to judge of ladies by their letters. I am not inclined to believe above half what the world says, according to Lord Chesterfield’s allowance for scandalous stories; but it may be necessary to warn you, as you seem very young, that —”
“Madam,” cried Angelina, “young as I am, I know that superior genius and virtue are the inevitable objects of scandal. It is in vain to detain me further.”
“I am truly sorry for it,” said Mrs. Porett; “but, perhaps, you will allow me to tell you, that —”
“No, not a word; not a word more will I hear,” cried our heroine; and she hurried out of the house, and threw herself into the coach. Mrs. Porett contrived, however, to make Betty Williams hear, that the most probable means of gaining any intelligence of Miss Hodges, would be to inquire for her at the shop of Mr. Beatson, who was her printer. To Mr. Beatson’s they drove — though Betty professed that she was half unwilling to inquire for Miss Hodges from any one whose name did not begin with a p, and end with a t.
“What a pity it is,” said Mrs. Porett, when she returned to her pupils —“what a pity it is that this young lady’s friends should permit her to go about in a hackney-coach, with such a strange, vulgar servant girl as that! She is too young to know how quickly, and often how severely, the world judges by appearances. Miss Hope, now we talk of appearances, you forget that your gown is torn, and you do not know, perhaps, that your friend, Lady Frances Somerset —”
“Lady Frances Somerset!” cried Clara Hope —“I love to hear her very name.”
“For which reason you interrupt me the moment I mention it — I have a great mind not to tell you — that Lady Frances Somerset has invited you to go to the play with her to-night:—‘The Merchant of Venice, and the Adopted Child.’”
“Gude-natured Lady Frances Somerset, I’m sure an’ if Clara Hope had been your adopted child twenty times over, you could not have been more kind to her nor you have been. — No, not had she been your are countrywoman, and of your are clan — and all for the same reasons that make some neglect and look down upon her — because Clara is not meikle rich, and is far away from her ane ane friends. — Gude Lady Frances Somerset! Clara Hope luves you in her heart, and she’s as blythe wi’ the thought o’ ganging to see you as if she were going to dear Inverary.”
It is a pity, for the sake of our story, that Miss Warwick did not stay a few minutes longer at Mrs. Porett’s, that she might have heard this eulogium on Lady Frances Somerset, and might have, a second time in one day, discovered that she was on the very brink of meeting with the persons she most dreaded to see; but, however temptingly romantic such an incident would have been, we must, according to our duty as faithful historians, deliver a plain unvarnished tale.
Miss Warwick arrived at Mr. Beatson’s, and as soon as she had pronounced the name of Hodges, the printer called to his devil for a parcel of advertisements, which he put into her hand; they were proposals for printing by subscription a new novel —“The Sorrows of Araminta.”
“Oh, my Araminta! my amiable Araminta! have I found you at last? —The Sorrows of Araminta, a novel, in nine volumes— Oh, charming! —together with a tragedy on the same plan— Delightful! —Subscriptions received at Joseph Beatson’s, printer and bookseller; and by Rachael Hodges— Odious name! —at Mrs. Bertrand’s.”
“Bartrand!— There now you, do ye hear that? the lady lives at Mrs. Bartrand’s: how will you make out now that Bartrand begins with a p, and ends with a t, now?” said the hackney-coachman to Betty, who was standing at the door.
“Pertrant! why,” cried Betty, “what would you have?”
“Silence! O silence!” said Miss Warwick; and she continued reading —“Subscriptions received at Mrs. Bertrand’s.”
“Pertrant, you hear, plockhead, you Irishman!” cried Betty Williams.
“Bartrand — you have no ears, Welshwoman as you are!” retorted Terence O’Grady.
“Subscription two guineas, for the Sorrows of Araminta,” continued our heroine; but, looking up, she saw Betty Williams and the hackney-coachman making menacing faces and gestures at one another.
“Fight it out in the passage, for Heaven’s sake!” said Angelina; “if you must fight, fight out of my sight.”
“For shame, before the young lady!” said Mr. Beatson, holding the hackney-coachman: “have done disputing so loud.”
“I’ve done, but she is wrong,” cried Terence.
“I’ve done, put he is wrong,” said Betty.
Terence was so much provoked by the Welshwoman, that he declared he would not carry her a step further in his coach — that his beasts were tired, and that he must be paid his fare, for that he neither could nor would wait any longer. Betty Williams was desired by Angelina to pay him. She hesitated; but after being assured by Miss Warwick that the debt should be punctually discharged in a few hours, she acknowledged that she had silver enough “in a little box at the bottom of her pocket;” and, after much fumbling, she pulled out a snuff-box, which, she said, had been given to her by her “creat crandmother.”— Whilst she was paying the coachman, the printer’s devil observed one end of a piece of lace hanging out of her pocket; she had, by accident, pulled it out along with the snuff-box.
“And was this your great grandmother’s too?” said the printer’s devil, taking hold of the lace.
Betty started. Angelina was busy, making inquiries from the printer, and she did not see or hear what was passing close to her: the coachman was intent upon the examination of his shillings. Betty, with great assurance, reproved the printer’s devil for touching such lace with his plack fingers.
“’Twas not my Grandmother’s —’tis the young lady’s,” said she: “let it pe, pray — look how you have placked it, and marked it, with plack fingers.”
She put the stolen lace hastily into her pocket, and immediately went out, as Miss Warwick desired, to call another coach.
Before we follow our heroine to Mrs. Bertrand’s, we must beg leave to go, and, if we can, to transport our readers with us, to Lady Frances Somerset’s house, at Clifton.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:08